Director and screenwriter
|Army of Shadows
|Rocco E I Suoi Fratelli
|Hungry For Love
|A Man Escaped
|Le SOUFFLE AU COEUR
|Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru
Army of Shadows
How to choose between the greatest war films? La Grande Illusion, The Battle of Algiers and Paths of Glory all get knocked out by the Melville – which has, when Simone Signoret is gunned down by her comrades in the street, one of the most frightening scenes ever filmed.
Rocco E I Suoi Fratelli
Again, there are so many great Viscontis – his films seem to improve with age as Antonioni's decline – but this one has the complexity of the very greatest novels
This is one of Bergman's earliest, but to me it has the perfect balance of realism and poetry – without some of the pretentiousness of his better known films.
Hungry For Love
If ever there were a great feminist masterpiece waiting to be re-discovered, this is it. A group of sex workers run a restaurant as a cover for their real work, then discover that they enjoy running a restaurant much more than they enjoy sex work. The final scene is one of the all-time cinematic kicks in the gut.
I have only seen this once, when it came out, and I have never been able to find it again, but the images from it have remained with me ever since. It is rare that cinema offers genuine ensemble acting, but this story about the disappearance of one person from a group is worthy of a Chekhov company at its most integrated.
A Man Escaped
Again, how to choose one escape movie? This is the one that most resembles a spiritual quest.
Le SOUFFLE AU COEUR
Alongside Renoir, Malle was the cinema's outstanding humanist. This may not be his most praised film, but I love it: the story of a boy sleeping, for one time only, with his mother – and how it affects their lives.
So many of the greatest American films are finally about class. Social mobility both makes you and destroys you. Wyler is on my list on behalf of the greatest generation of American filmmakers, and this story of a maitre d' who loses all for love offers Laurence Olivier's best film performance
Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru
This film is such a radical indictment of capitalism that it shames all contemporary work on the subject. Only great directors can hold together scenes of twenty or thirty people – and Kurosawa exerts a level of exemplary control over his white-shirted businessmen which any practicing director can only wonder at.
You have to have Kurosawa, Malle, Melville and Bergman, because they are cinema – its life and its history. But I've stuck to one of each. Only Simone Signoret seems to slip into the list twice. These ten films may not be the greatest, but they're the ones I've enjoyed most when seeing them this century. Of course, by my account, it would seem 1960 was the greatest year ever for movies. Maybe it was. Or maybe I was just young.